Graskop Gorge gets a lift for tourism
firstname.lastname@example.org YOUR adrenaline is bound to pump up as you descend 51m down the face of the Graskop Gorge into the Afromontane forest below.
This breathtaking experience was appreciated by a media group who experienced the official launch of the Graskop Gorge Lift on the Panorama Route in Mpumalanga.
As visitors travel in the lift, they can gaze out at the waterfall cascading on the opposite side where wooden walkways and suspension bridges meander along a 600m trail through the indigenous forest
The Panorama Route is a popular tourist destination that attracts over 500 000 visitors a year. And the lift, which opened in December, has already attracted 100 000 visitors, both local and foreigners.
During the official opening on Thursday, Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom hosted a function and said Graskop had the potential to make tourism in the area flourish.
“The place is going to give people a memorable stay,” he said.
He praised those with the vision to develop the tourist facility, and said their hard work ensured it became a reality.
The department recently made a grant of R5 million to be utilised during the second phase of the project.
Project director Oupa Pilane said: “This lift is the first in Africa. We are not competing with anyone.”
Graskop’s proximity to the Kruger National Park, he said, presented it with better chances to attract more tourists. “Through tourism only we can create jobs for everyone residing in the area,” Pilane said.
During its first phase of development, 155 temporary jobs and 40 permanent jobs were created.
The economic development agency of Thaba Chweu Local Municipality Project called Thaleda awarded to developers economic opportunities worth approximately R150m.
The National Empowerment Fund (NEF) funded the first phase of the initiative to the tune of R334m in 2016.
Chief executive of the NEF Philisiwe Mthethwa said: “They had an idea that had every potential to easily become the most innovative tourism development in South Africa after liberation.”
She said the value of the project was R40m and was expected to grow to R150m on completion of the second phase when more suspension bridges would be built.
Developers secured a 25-year contract with the municipality following a public procurement processes to develop the infrastructure with the aim of transforming Graskop into a major tourism node.
The precinct has a restaurant on the cliff edge, a contemporary African art gallery, colourful African fashion clothing, curio shop and community craft market. Go to https://youtu.be/TCqIKVDXvdQ
The Graskop Gorge lift was officially opened by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom this week.
Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom and Graskop Gorge Project director Oupa Pilane.